How Are You Feeling?

Emotional Intelligence Activities with Smurks

Autism currently affects 1 in 110 kids in the U.S. Although not every child with autism will exhibit the same behaviors or face the same challenges, there appears to be some level of difficulty with understanding and expressing emotions among all children with the diagnosis. The following activities are meant to help parents, caregivers, and those who work closely with children with autism to introduce the concepts of reading and understanding emotions or to reinforce skills already learned.

Read My Face

Use this activity to help children identify emotional expressions. To start, simply make a facial expression. It can be happy, sad, angry, bored, or whatever you’d like. Then have the child find a similar Smurks expression and name it aloud (“curious”, “bored”, “happy”, etc). After a few rounds, take the activity to the next step and ask the child to “exaggerate” the emotion by choosing a more amped-up version of the Smurks expression. Talk about how this new expression is the same basic emotion, but one that is felt more strongly. Or try pinching or stretching the Smurks face, then talk about how that changes the emotion.

Emotional Check-in

This activity will help you keep track of a child’s emotional ups and downs during the day, so that you might be able to problem solve any challenging behavior that occurs on a consistent basis. To do it, tell the child to choose Smurks expressions that reflect his or her feelings at certain times during a typical day. For instance, you might have the child “check-in emotionally” at lunch, after gym class, on the bus, or at any other time. Later, use the app’s “history” function to review the Smurks expressions and the times they were chosen. When are the Smurks positive? When are they negative? If you see a pattern begin to emerge, share this information with any caregivers, teachers, or school aides who work with the child on a regular basis to see if changes in activities or environments need to be made.

Say It with Feeling

Use this activity to encourage children to connect feelings to real-life scenarios. Read one of the following statements aloud. (Don’t read it with emotion.) Then have the child find a Smurks expression that matches the implied emotion of the statement. Challenge the child to repeat the statement with the appropriate facial expression, tone of voice, and gestures that convey the appropriate feeling. The child can use the Smurks expression as a jumping off point, if he or she needs help. Repeat the game with the rest of the statements.
My dog is lost.
I got a new bike.
I can’t keep my eyes open.
I wonder how tall that man is.
I can’t believe you were late to my party.
Do you need me to help you with something?
I’m so nervous about taking the test.